Training vital for agriculture

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Photo of Cowra grower Josh Walker

Cowra grower Josh Walker believes staying informed of the latest changes in best practice is particularly important in areas such as chemical application.

PHOTO: Toni Somes

Grower Josh Walker believes training and keeping skills and knowledge up to date is vital for those working in agriculture.

The 28-year-old manages a 400-hectare mixed-farming operation, ‘Valley of Springs’, for his family on the outskirts of Cowra, in central west New South Wales.

While escaping the day-to-day demands of farm work may take some planning, Josh says, it is important to keep informed through industry workshops and other learning opportunities about best-practice changes and improvements in items such as chemical spray application.

He recently completed an advanced spray-application course delivered through Tocal College as part of the AgSkilled vocational training program.

The two-day course prompted a substantial shift in his on-farm practices and has given him a better understanding of how nozzle size and machinery calibration can affect spray drift.

“Research has proven that coarser nozzles in specific conditions do a better job of reducing the risk of spray drift, and that’s just one of the many things I learnt that have changed how we apply chemicals,” Josh says.

“And while it might be hard to get away from the farm, learning what’s new and what’s best really has implications for how effectively you do things.”

Josh has been working in the family business for the past seven years and took on the management role in 2015. ‘Valley of Springs’ is a 50 per cent grazing operation, running Merino breeding ewes alongside winter crops such as barley, oats and lupins.

“When it comes to chemical spraying our activities are divided between pasture and crop spraying, but the concept of getting it right is important in both cases,” he says.

“I would definitely recommend doing the advanced spray application training through AgSkilled. It was a very thorough course and answered all my questions.

“But without a doubt one of the most helpful parts of the training was having Craig Day, the trainer, come to the farm and help me set up and calibrate my new spray unit and controller.”

As a follow-up to the two-day training workshop, Mr Day visited each course participant to answer questions one-on-one and provide practical advice about specific on-farm equipment and on-farm spray planning.

“It made an incredible difference to have Craig come along and show me how to practically apply the material we had been taught,” Mr Walker says.

“And I think many growers would benefit similarly. We tend to be hands-on sort of people who learn very effectively when things like chemical spray best-practice set-ups and calibration are actually demonstrated to us.”

See the full story on AgSkilled: 'Bringing training to the ag industry'